Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eating & Drinking in Iceland

Surprisingly to most, Iceland can be a real culinary destination. Reykjavik in particular has more well reviewed restaurants than even a week of eating would allow for and we only had 3 days. Thanks to friends and Twitter we had lots of recommendations and I don't think we really could have gone wrong with any of them.

We started our first day off with a cup of lobster soup from the tiny harbor shack that is The Sea Baron or Saegreifinn. This is definitely a working persons cantina with kabobs of whale and halibut ready to be grilled, bowls of the delicious lobster soup served with hearty bread on built in wood tables with stools that looked to be crafted out of buoys.
We were told this is the menu :)

Icelandic lobsters are actually langoustines, delicate in flavor with a wonderful texture. One day we made a special detour on our Golden Circle drive to head to the seaside town of Stokkseyri for dinner at Fjorubordid known for their "Magical" lobster soup and peel and eat langoustines in garlic butter. Let me just say that this meal was worth the drive, only an hour outside of Reykjavik. The soup came first accompanied by a wonderful light rye bread with 3 spreads, a dill skyr, a tomato tapenade and an amazing brown sugar with garlic. We ordered our 300 grams of langoustines "with the trimmings" which included cous cous, pickled cucumbers and carrots, green salad and tomato wedges with a touch of vinegar and oil (tomatoes are grown all over Iceland in greenhouses heated by geothermal heat).




Then of course there is the infamous Reykjavik hot dog stand Baejarins beztu pylsur, self named the best hotdog in the world. This little stand, also on the harbor, continually has a line of locals and tourists alike. We got our dog (made with lamb) with the works- dark sweet mustard, crunchy fried onions, minced raw onion and remoulade. The dog was good and had a nice snap but there was a lot of creamy sauces on it, something we'd ask for on the lighter side next time around.



Of course you've heard of the unusual Icelandic delicacies like minke whale, puffin, fermented shark, sheep's head, etc. These are all easy to find, on most menus in some form or another.

Our first night we had dinner at Vox in the Hilton. It's quite a nice restaurant which prides itself on using only Icelandic ingredients. They offer a 4 course set menu which we both had.



The starter of minke whale was awesome. Just barely seared and sliced thinly I thought the flavor was very very good. The second course is their well known charred seafood soup. Delicious with bits of lobster, cod and halibut. Steak on a bed of sunchokes and asparagus with a creamy mustard sauce was good for the main if a bit underwhelming. The dessert made with skyr & lingon berries more than made up for it.



We also ate at Tapas Barinn which serves traditional Icelandic food in a tapas style. Here we had a 7 small plate meal which included or first taste of puffin served with a blueberry sauce. Yum.




For breakfast we ate the delicious buffet at the Hilton and also had some hearty eggs and bacon from the Grey Cat.

Of course with all this eating you need some drinking! We enjoyed beers and the Iceland equivalent to aquavit, Brennevin, shots at Kaffibarinn (co owned by Damon Albarn), Prikid, The Laundromat, The English Pub and The Icelandic Bar ( I really want to back here for a meal!). Keep an eye open for the Icelandic Gin- seems to be new and not every place had it but it was good and made for a delicious martini!

Folks in Iceland take their weekend pub crawls so seriously they have their own name for it- runtur. We only did one stop but certainly saw the damage if you know what I mean!
Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions, can't wait to head back and explore the rest of the list!

While waiting for our flight home we perused the airport eateries. After being warned away from the hot dogs there we settled on this gorgeous plate of smoked salmon and steamed shrimp complete with two glasses of wine, dark bread and assorted condiments. Classy Iceland, very classy.



p.s. forgot to mention that if you are looking for a bag of chips in Iceland look no further than...

Iceland photos

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